Thursday, July 19, 2012

How Ireland Killed the HiWheel & the Story of the Tire

In 1887, in Belfast, Ireland, veterinarian, John Boyd Dunlop, outfitted his child's bike with tires that held air. Soon he convinced local Irish bike club cyclists to use his tire with tube configuration on bikes they could touch their feet to the ground on. When these  bikes then started out-speeding their HiWheel counterparts in race after race, the once invincible tall wheel bike was headed for the graveyard of history. In fact, by 1892, they had disappeared from the bicycle showrooms of America.

What had kept the HiWheel in favor since its inception in 1869, even though smaller wheeled bikes were catching up in speed, was its ride. Even as chains, which the Penny Farthing did not have, were becoming lighter and much reduced in size, making the shorter bikes faster and faster, the ride on a tall wheel was still far superior in its comfort. The farther one can get from the road, especially the rough roads of the late 19th Century, the less of its shock the cyclist  will feel. Dunlop, in effect, leveled the playing field with his invention.

Soon, instead of only the fit, well heeled men of the day being able to ride bikes,  women, kids and the fit and the unfit were all able to enjoy the bicycle. Bikes could be made to do work and run errands. They made it possible for most everyone to go much farther much faster.  They gave women independence back at a time when a man's strength  had before been needed to work with horses and buggies.

You can also read how his pneumatic tire found its way on to the automobile in the link that follows. I think you will agree that along with Edison's  light bulb, Dunlop's invention joins the ranks of Goodyear's vulcanized rubber, Bessemer's steel and Drake's oil well as tools that have brought about quantum leaps in the advancement of civilization

Read the whole Story about how the tire evolved...

No comments:

Post a Comment